The Underdog, How I started Rocky Mountain Dog

I almost didn't adopt Butch. I had a choice between two Duck Tollers, Butch had a stomach hernia, a small hole in his stomach, the underdog.

Email about Butch Duck Toller

His brother had better quality, his overall structure was better... but I chose Butch. I chose the underdog, the last pick, the player nobody wanted. It was the best choice of my life. 

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog that counts." - Mark Twain

Butch Duck Toller

This is the first picture of Butch, can you blame me? What a cutie! He has been a joy in my life, a spark plug and the inspiration for Rocky Mountain Dog!

Why Rocky Mountain... Dog? I was born in Calgary, Alberta at the doorsteps of the Rocky Mountains. I've been going to the mountains all my life learning how to ski at Sunshine and Lake Louise ski hills, hiking, biking in the summer and enjoying camping on the long weekends. 

I never get bored going to the mountains, I actually get more inspired every time. Everything slows down when I'm in the mountains, things come into focus and you live in the moment. 

It can be painful at the time hiking up a mountain or trying to shred one more run on the ski hill but you don't stop, you dig a little deeper to reach your goal because it feels so damn good. That's what we do.

Rob Skiing at Retallak

Skiing At Retallak

 Rob Taking Picture of Waterfalls

Takakkaw Falls

With Butch, I can now enjoy the mountains with my best buddy. It was so easy to go out to the mountains with Butch because of his energy... he's a duck toller! Simple walks around the block don't cut it with him so I found myself heading to the mountains all the time with him. 

Duck toller and black lab playing in snow

Playing in the snow with Butch and Lola

But just owning a dog doesn't take you to the leap of starting an e-commerce store for most people. I have a background in digital marketing, websites, online marketing and IT. 

I could never do the coding though so it was hard to do an e-commerce store on your own ten years ago.  What's happened over the last five years is the advance of online platforms like Shopify. I was amazed when I saw the power of this platform... and that's how it began.

So I thought why not start a Shopify store selling pet products to get a piece of the $60 billion/year slice of pie. Sounds easy.

I won't go into all the gory details at my first attempt... but it wasn't pretty. I made a lot of mistakes, a lot, and it was a flop.

After some thinking, reflection, reading and listening to marketing podcasts, I realized I was missing the most important thing in business. A brand. Without a brand, you don't have anything.

That's where it all starts and ends. It's the only thing you can defend yourself against all these juggernauts today like Amazon, Google and Facebook. 

So that's where I started, but that doesn't magically fall from the sky. My original thought was to go with the name Butch Dog but I had to remove my own personal bias.

Rocky Mountain Dog. I can't really remember now how I came up with that name but I knew there was a connection to where I live, where I've been going to all my life and my dog, Butch. 

It seems pretty simple now... just call the company Rocky Mountain Dog. But as I said, nothing falls from the sky. 

I WORKED at it. Chipping away at night, early in the mornings and on the weekends. Everyone has an idea and can sound brilliant spewing off all these ideas but they don't mean anything without execution. 

I WORKED every day and was taking a risk of launching a business because you have no idea if it's going to be a success or a complete failure.

The risk comes in many forms, there was a financial risk buying all the products, investing all the time for no payback and being embarrassed if it failed. And this risk is still playing out.

This risk of failure can be a self-fulling prophecy if you're dipping your toes in the water or being on the fence. You are either all in or don't even bother. So I made a commitment to myself that I was all in.

I started with social media posts to get the word out as I worked on product development. I was doing everything - social media, website, domains, pictures and all the minutia of a startup. I was never really good at any one thing but I could get by knowing a little about the right things.

I started social media posts long before there were any products. That was the other piece of the equation. We needed something to sell! I knew the product differentiator was going to be the mountain designs but I didn't have anything.

There was a lot of research on suppliers, comparisons, trying samples and honing in on the features worthy of adventures with your dog. Once I had something, I was trying it with Butch in the mountains and it worked! 

We launched the website in October of 2018 selling online and started to get our product into a few stores in 2019. There is a long way to go but so far so good.

In order to survive, we will need your help buying our products, spreading the word, being an ambassador and living our motto of making memories outdoors with your dog.

We'll see where this goes, the risks and uncertainty are still high but if it's going to be successful... that's going to be a damn good feeling and that's why we do this shit.

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